Fired Cavaliers coach David Blatt is already drawing interest from the Nets, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders hears (Twitter link). Chatter is connecting him to the Timberwolves, notes international journalist David Pick, and Kyler says Blatt’s name has also been linked to the Lakers (Twitter links). Blatt and Brooklyn have a natural connection, given his time as coach of the Russian national team and the presence of Russian Mikhail Prokhorov as Nets owner.
Cleveland GM David Griffin said it was behind-the-scenes issues rather than on-court performance that doomed Blatt, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Cavs compiled a 30-11 record through the first half of this season, but Griffin was unhappy with the atmosphere in the locker room and thought a change was necessary. “I’ve never seen a locker room not be as connected after wins as they need to be,” Griffin said. “We’ve only been galvanized when expectations were not high and circumstances were somewhat artificial. Otherwise, we’ve been a group of tremendous individual talent with individual hopes and dreams. That’s not a winning formula. I’m not leaving an unprecedented team payroll and all of the efforts of everybody that works in this organization to chance.”
Speaking to the media tonight, new coach Tyronn Lue said the Cavaliers don’t enjoy playing the game, tweets Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal. Lue also made an appeal for Blatt to be the Eastern Conference coach in the All-Star Game, tweets Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but a league source who spoke with Haynes shot down that possibility (Twitter link).
The reaction to Friday’s firing continues to pour in from around the league:
- Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy has been an outspoken critic of the move, writes David Mayo of MLive. Van Gundy expressed dismay that Blatt was let go despite taking the Cavs to the NBA Finals last year and compiling the best record in the East this season. “You can’t even make a flimsy case for the fact that the guy wasn’t meeting expectations,” Van Gundy said. “So obviously, there’s something else going on, and that’s what I’m saying — none of us now has any clue, whatsoever, what the expectations for coaches are.”
- To be successful, Lue needs the full support that the Cavaliers were never willing to give to Blatt, contends Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. As a former player and respected assistant coach, Lue has the advantage of being an NBA insider, which Zillgitt believes will make it easier for him to relate to players than it was for Blatt.
- Blatt turned out to be the wrong coach at the wrong time, and the Cavaliers wasted a year and a half of James’ career by not firing him sooner, writes Tim Kawakami of The Bay Area News Group. He contrasts that with the situation in Golden State, where the Warriors dumped Mark Jackson after the 2013/14 season even though they knew it would upset Stephen Curry because they believed Steve Kerr would be a better coach for their star.
Chuck Myron contributed to this story.